Later that summer the station wagon was traded in for a new van when we learned that our family of 5, in addition to growing with the addition of Twink and Emily, would shortly be growing once again with the anticipated arrival of Victoria.
And so we grew, and we watched Emily and Twink grow right alongside Victoria. Emily became famous among us for two things: First, her tendency to shoot through a door or gate at any opportunity and run through the neighborhood without slowing down. She usually had to be chased in a car and it took all available hands on deck to retrieve her. Next, she was known for her wild fur. No matter how often she was bathed, brushed or trimmed, she always had this orphaned look about her. Her appearance reminded us of the character Rosco from Disney's Oliver and Company and when she looked especially scruffy to us, we'd affectionately sing to her "Why should I worry? Why should I care?"
Emily was far from an orphan, though. She was always loved, especially by Monica. While I took to Twink that summer, Emily quickly became Monica's pet. The relationship between Twink and Emily was also undeniable and the mix-matched pair of "sisters" brought joy and laughter to the family. Years later when Twink was diagnosed with diabetes and the illness blinded her and began to effect her temperament, we were stunned to see Twink start to turn on Emily, especially with the introduction of Lola, our family German Shepherd who moved in in October 2007. Eventually, Twink's illness shut down her internal organs and we had to put her to sleep nearly 5 years ago. We hoped that with Twink's sad passing, Emily and Lola could live in harmony again. After a very close-call, Emily, who had always been an outdoor dog, moved indoors.
We weren't sure, at her advanced age and her propensity for bolting, how Emily would transition, but it was just a matter of time before Emily was very apparently enjoying the life of an only-indoor dog. She laid where she wanted to, ate when she wanted to, and generally lived a life of luxury.
Emily and Monica soon became a staple sight around the neighborhood. Monica took Emily on three walks a day to make sure she had an opportunity to use the bathroom. She came home on her lunch hour to walk Emily or let her outside. Once a month she would travel to Fresno to visit with a cloister of nuns whose order she was discerning, but she would call or text reminders to take Emily outside. Each of those weekends, Emily would wait by the front door, hoping that the next time it opened, Monica would walk through.
They were to ladies, set in their ways, a stoic pair whose consistency you could always depend on. When I moved in three doors down from my parents and Monica, I could see her walk by my front yard every evening. Even when I wondered if my ex-husband would ever come home, I could be certain that Monica and Emily would traverse by at some point before and after the sun went down.
Emily's walks started getting shorter and shorter. She struggled to make it around the block, and so they would take a short-cut through the alley. Then, she could only make it to the end of the block and back. In recent weeks, Monica and Emily have only paced the yard. Last night, Emily couldn't even do that much. Through it all she did not whimper, did not cry, did not howl.
This morning at 7:40 I walked three houses over to say my good-byes to Emily before Monica wrapped her in a towel and carried her to the vet's office where Monica would say her own good-byes.
I figure, if Emily was a year old when we got her in the summer of 1997, as her former family told us she was, she was about 18 years old when she went to her final rest this morning. Not a bad run, for a scrappy little dog who tripped horses and battled German Shepherds. No matter what she was going through, no matter how she looked, no matter her limitations, she just kept moving along as best she could. And I like to believe that no matter how much she struggled her last few years and especially months and days on earth, today she's running free, her fur a tangled mess, her "sister" Twink alongside her restored to perfect health, singing "Why should I worry? Why should I care?"